Thanking the Lord

I thank the Lord above that Santa Claus is coming tonight…

Thanksgiving has come and gone and thus the Christmas music season has begun. Overheard on my Pandora Christmas music station this morning were the above lyrics. Being the feisty pastor that I am, I immediately took notice –

thanking the Lord above that Santa Claus is coming tonight.

Hmmm, but I really should not be surprised by this because, after all, that is the mentality of our culture today: Materialism. Children clamoring and begging for the newest toys and gadgets. Adult scrambling for the best Black Friday sales. And apparently buying your spouse an expensive car for Christmas is so common place that car manufacturers produce Christmas commercials urging and supporting such a practice. [heavy sigh]

Yup, people left and right are thanking their lord (notice the small “l”) that new stuff is coming soon.

Each and every year I am reminded very quickly of the mission field in which we serve. You see, you don’t need to create opportunities to witness your faith – those opportunities are all around you. People are begging for meaning and purpose. They are grasping for something to which to cling. Your friends, family and neighbors are thanking the wrong lord. Make it a point this Advent and Christmas to thank the Lord (notice the capital “L” this time) above that Jesus Christ is coming to town…soon.

Yes, Jesus is coming. Through his death and resurrection (The best “door buster” ever), Jesus has conquered death and now is THE Way to eternal life. This is awesome news – that Jesus is coming to bring you home. And that my friends, is the best Black Friday deal around. There is no waiting in line for that. Just receive Jesus as your Lord, confess your sins and receive forgiveness, and repent – giving him thanks and praise.

Every Black Friday deal of this world will fade away and fall into obscurity. Jesus Christ is you Life and Hope and Salvation, forever and ever.

I thank You, Lord above, that Jesus Christ is here and coming to town for me, that I may live with him in everlasting peace and joy. Amen!

Jesus is Coming!!!

Luke 1:44 (ESV) ~ For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

If you want an excellent argument against abortion, well, an unborn child leaping for joy should do it. Don’t try to tell me an unborn child doesn’t matter. But I digress as I am not here to preach to the choir on this social issue.

Christmas is coming. Jesus is on the way. And an unborn child leaps for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice; knowing that Jesus is near. How’s your leaping been as of late? Are you tired of leaping through hoops? Are you tired of leaping over life’s hurdles? Whatever the case; whether you’re tired or not, remember that Jesus is coming…and that is even better than celebrating the birthday of a 2000+ year old man. This is the birthday of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who is to come.
Coming to claim you.
Coming to bring you home.
Coming to show you God.
Coming to stomp out death once and for all.
Coming to establish God’s Kingdom.
This Lord and Savior is coming for you. Has you heart leaped for joy yet? No? Then drink some coffee, pinch your arm and re-read what I just wrote.

JESUS IS COMING!!!

The Pastor -|—

The Reason for Christmas

Holy Father,
As we inch ever closer to Christmas,
we are reminded that the point of all our preparations is
to worship our Savior,
Jesus,
who was born to die for us.
Many have suggested that Christmas has nothing to do with death,
but without the death and resurrection of Jesus,
we are left with nothing;
no hope,
no peace,
no JOY.
May the JOY of the Advent season fill our lives
so much so,
that Jesus radiates from us
and therefore brings You glory.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

JOY

Holy God,
we are ever reminded that
the JOY of this season is not found in
gifts
or food
or decorating.
Our JOY is not in
stuff
or vacations
or even in our families.
True and unending
JOY is found only in
Jesus;
something that can not be taken away
by anything
or anyone
of this world.
May that JOY overflow in abundance
that you may be glorified through our lives.
In Jesus’ name we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Groaning

My most recent article in the Tacoma News Tribune (TNT)…

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. [Romans 8:22-25]

I don’t know about you, but I have been doing a lot of groaning recently. I wrote in my last article about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in our culture and called for men to step up and change this culture of abuse. Since writing that article, things have continued with more “big name” people being fired, and more politicians being accused. No, I didn’t expect my article to have an immediate impact, but I am still groaning at the depth of this sin in our culture.

I also groan over the hurt in people’s lives close to me. I groan over the hate that continues to run amuck in the world. I groan over the rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. I groan, I sigh, and I lift my eyes to the heavens. I cry out to God for redemption. I cry out to God for renewal. I do all of this in hope, though, remembering God’s promises that came to us at Christmas time.

Yes, it is that time of the year, yet many people see increased tension as to-do lists become longer and household budgets get stretched. The Christmas season is upon us with Advent beginning on Sunday. “What is Advent?” you may ask? Advent is a time of waiting; a time of preparation. No, I’m not talking about decorating or searching for that perfect gift. Advent is a time of preparation as we wait for our Lord Jesus. It is a time to prepare our hearts and make room for him, and not just make room, but clear house.

Advent is also a time of hope as we groan, for the birth of Jesus signaled the beginning of the end of God’s plan of redemption for creation. It is not just us groaning but all of creation and thus we wait in patience; knowing that Jesus’ birth means that our groaning will soon come to an end. Thus, this is a season of joy and peace and love. This is a season of celebration and expectation and anticipation.

Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Jesus was born. Jesus lived on this earth. Jesus was crucified. Jesus rose from the dead. These are all verifiable facts. Now we wait for Jesus to come again. That is where my hope is placed. We live in a world of groaning, but Jesus is coming to end all groaning. Prepare and make room for Him, for Jesus was born for you.

Happy Advent
and
Merry Christmas

The Pastor -|—

Much To Do

Father God, there’s so much to do;
more presents to buy,
traveling arrangements to make,
sermons to write,
details to nail down,
packing to do,
loose ends to tie up.
and other things that I haven’t thought of yet.
Father God, there’s so much to do.

And in the midst of this “much to do”
I often find myself to focused on the “much to do”.
Help me to take a step back
and gaze into the manger,
to look upon Jesus,
and remember the gift that he is.
May the “much to do” not become my Christmas.
Jesus is the reason.
Jesus is the season,
ALWAYS.

Father God, there’s so much to do,
to make me more like Jesus.
Take me.
Form me.
Mold me.
Shape me.
Transform me.
Make me more like Jesus.

Amen.

The Pastor -|—

The Promise of Christmas

Holy Father,
You came bursting onto scene in holy Love
and You paved a way through the wilderness;
straight into Your holy courts
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Your power has defeated
Satan,
sin
and death
and Your love has redeemed your lost children.
May we cling to the promise of Christmas
as we bask in Your glory.
Through Jesus Christ we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—